Palace Embankment Walking Tour (Self Guided), St. Petersburg

Stretching along the River Neva in the very heart of St Petersburg is the Palace Embankment. A long standing tourist attraction, other than fresh air and a pleasant view of the river, the Embankment offers a terrific sight of the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Vasilievsky Island. The Embankment also holds marvelous landmarks such as the Winter Palace, the Hermitage Theatre, the Marble Palace and others. No visit to St Petersburg is complete without a stroll along the Palace Embankment.
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Palace Embankment Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Palace Embankment Walking Tour
Guide Location: Russia » St. Petersburg (See other walking tours in St. Petersburg)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: emily
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palace Square
  • Hermitage Bridge
  • Hermitage Theatre
  • Vladimir Palace
  • Marble Palace
Palace Square

1) Palace Square (must see)

One cannot truly experience St. Petersburg without visiting Palace Square (Russian: Dvortsovaya Ploshchad), the central square of St. Petersburg. The place takes its name from the Winter Palace that frames it at one end.

The southern side of the square, formed as an arc, emerged in the late 18th century, designed by George von Velten; whereas the overall ensemble – masterminded as a vast monument to the Russian victory over Napoleonic France – came into existence under Alexander I (reigned 1801–1825).

The architect Carlo Rossi took 10 years, from 1819 to 1829, to create a bow-shaped plaza which centers on a double triumphal arch crowned with a bronze Roman quadriga. One of the most stunning architectural elements of the square is the Alexander Column designed by Auguste de Montferrand in 1830–1834. This red granite column (the tallest of its kind in the world) stands 47.5 meters high and weighs some 500 tons. It is set so well that requires no attachment to the base. The monument is topped with an angel holding a cross.

The square features a mix of architectural styles, ranging from Baroque of the white-and-turquoise Winter Palace (re-built between 1754 and 1762) to the Neoclassical Imperial-style of the General Staff Building (1819–1829). The eastern side of the square comprises Alexander Brullov's building of the Guards Corps Headquarters (1837–1843), overlooking the western side which opens towards Admiralty Square.

Many historic events took place at Palace Square over the years, including the so-called Bloody Sunday massacre of 9 January 1905, during which the Tsar’s troops gunned down hundreds of peaceful demonstrators thus giving start to the first Russian Revolution of 1905. Another revolution, of 1917, also culminated here with the storming of the Winter Palace. A signal for that attack came from the nearby moored Cruiser Aurora which fired a shot from her forecastle gun on 25 October 1917.

Why You Should Visit:
Immaculately clean square and extremely picturesque, in large part, due to the Hermitage and the Winter Palace.

Highly photogenic, so make sure to bring a good camera and come early in the morning when the sun rises behind the General Staff Building, casting nice shadows over the horse-drawn chariot on top of it.
A 20-minute horse ride (not expensive) can give you a special dimension to visiting the place.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hermitage Bridge

2) Hermitage Bridge

The Hermitage Bridge is a stone overpass that graces the gorgeous Winter Canal, which streams into the Neva River. It is located between the Hermitage Theatre and the Old Hermitage. Originally named the Upper Embankment Bridge, it is one of the oldest stone bridges in St. Petersburg and one of 315 bridges in the city. The original name was never popular with the people. Therefore, from the 18th century on, the bridge was known as the Palace Bridge. The current name was instituted in 1929.

The original bridge was a three-span wooden bridge that was constructed during 1718 to 1720 by Herman van Boles. The original arches of the bridge were brick and limestone and featured a granite facing. The stone bridge was built during 1763 to 1766. The bridge was replaced with reinforced concrete in 1934 by project engineer AD Saperstein and architect K. M. Dmitriev. In 1950, the original furnishings of the ramps were restored.

Each year, thousands of tourists and photo enthusiasts enjoy the spectacular views and stunning photo opportunities the Hermitage Bridge offers. One can easily see waterfront views of the nearby Palace Embankment where the Summer Garden and Winter, Vladimir, Novo-Mikhailovsky, New Michael, and Marble Palaces are located.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Hermitage Theatre

3) Hermitage Theatre

Known as one of the oldest theaters in Russia, the Hermitage features concerts, lectures, plays, and music festivals. It is one of five Hermitage buildings that are located along the Palace Embankment on the Neva River. The theater features a Neoclassical design by architect Giacomo Quarenghi and was built from 1782 to 1785 at the request of Catherine the Great.

The semicircular auditorium was designed to resemble an amphitheater. Statues of Apollo and the muses purposefully decorate the hall. The stage displays Russian aristocracy at their best and you will feel every bit the Russian aristocrat when you visit. Guests will enjoy the red velvet, fake marble, and distinctive lighting that perfectly displays the beauty of this 18th-century jewel. Although the structure survived the Soviet years, and much of the original furnishings remain, the impressive and detailed sets were lost forever.

The best of the best performed at this theater. Leading artists such as Mathilde Kschessinska, Anna Pavlova, Fyodor Chaliapin, Svyatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich and Yelena Obraztsova have graced the stage. In addition, ballets such as Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Chopiniana are frequently performed. Whether you enjoy opera, ballet, or theater, you will not leave disappointed.

Open seating (no allocated seats) means you must go early and choose seats near to the rear and center for the best views!
If you want to see a non-tourist ballet performance, book the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg or the Bolshoi in Moscow.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am-10:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Vladimir Palace

4) Vladimir Palace

Vladimir Palace is one of the last regal palaces to be constructed in St. Petersburg. Vasily Kenel, Aleksandr Rezanov, Andrei Huhn, Ieronim Kitner, and Vladimir Shreter designed the fortress. The building is located on the Palace Embankment. It was constructed from 1867 to 1872 for Alexander II's son, Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia. Today, the house is known as the Academics’ House.

The 360 rooms and outbuildings features several design styles from many different influences. Neo-Renaissance, Gothic Revival, Russian Revival, Rococo, Byzantine Style, and Louis XIV, are some of the many influences one will see as they view the many exhibitions. The exterior facade features stucco rustication and the main porch has Bremen sandstone that is decorated with griffins, coats-of-arms, and cast-iron lanterns.

The palace was given to scientists after the October 1917 Revolution and became known as the Academics’ House. This transfer is probably what enabled the palace to survive the Soviet years without losing any of its original design or detail. Visitors will enjoy viewing 19th century porcelain, vases, dinner services, the Main Staircase, the Golden Staircase, the intricate ceiling tiling in the Persian Room, the Monumental Stove in the Oak Hall, and many other stunning displays of design. The palace is open for tours Monday through Saturday.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Marble Palace

5) Marble Palace

Marble Palace is located between the Field of Mars and the Neva River. Dubbed by many as “the only of its kind”, the interior and exterior of the property featured 32 different types of marble. Catherine the Great intended the palace as a gift for Count G. Orlov, one of her favorite friends. Architect Antonio Rinaldi built the palace from 1768 to 1785.

Unfortunately, Count Orlov did not live to see the glorious creation and the palace passed through a succession of royalty before becoming the property of the Soviet government in 1917. Much of the design was lost on the first floor when the Central Museum of Lenin was installed at the palace. The only items that survived were the Main Stairs and the Marble Room.

The museum is home to two impressive collections. The first collection is a compilation of over 500 items donated by the Rzhevskiy Brothers. It consists of 19th and 20th-century art (drawings, paintings, porcelain, and antiques), by artists Mikhail Nesterov, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. The second set is the Ludwig Collection and features European, American, and Russian exhibitions from the Ludwig Museum.

An equestrian statue of Alexander III majestically greets all who pass through the courtyard.

Pre-book a tour of the palace! It is during the tour that the more beautiful rooms are shown, which are closed to regular visits. The most important one – Marble Room – also has limited access.

Opening Hours:
Wed, Fri-Mon: 10am-6pm; Thu: 1-9pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in St. Petersburg, Russia

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